Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama says Americans should help him with ideas to make our country a better place to live. I think more picnic tables would be a good start, but beyond that I am writing a letter a day to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
I went to see my elder daughter in a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream tonight, and it was fabulous! I don’t know if you are into that kind of thing, but I think you would have enjoyed it, and now that I think about it I should have called you. Sorry about that. That’s one I owe you.
You are the father of daughters, and so am I. We worry about their education, their social world, and whether they have used up all the hot water. Which, btw, strikes me as very funny: you running through the White House living quarters in a towel yelling, “Malia! How long were you in that shower?”
So I’m writing today about a couple of other young women who seem to have people convinced they are on a road to ruin: Barbie and Dora. I’m sure you’ve seen the stories. Barbie has come out in a new tattoo version, complete with tattoo gun. And Dora the cute little explorer is moving to the city, working on her abs, and reinventing herself as stylin’ tween Dora. Parents (well, at least some of them) are unhappy. They say both new versions are sending the wrong message to young women about sexuality, body type, and what is cool.
I don’t get particularly worked up about such things. In the case of Barbie, I just think tattoos are a bad idea to begin with. I always say to people considering them, “OK, first go pick out a pair of socks you want to wear for the rest of your life. If you can’t, it’s probably best to rethink that idea of stenciling Marvin Martian on your butt.” On the other hand it is a personal choice, and if Barbie wants to slap on some Ken is the King body art, who am I to stop her? Now, if they went straight to Cell Block Barbie, complete with a banner of “live free or die” inked across her breasts, perhaps I’d be more concerned.
Dora? I’ve never paid much attention to her. As best I can make out she’s just like a sweet kid with frighteningly huge eyes who sells backpacks to gradeschoolers. Mattel says she’s not going to be “all sexed up” as some parents fear; she’s just going to be a little older, slimmed down, and involved in somewhat more grown-up adventures. Hmmm. Now that I write it down, that does sound a little suspicious. I had a cousin who did the same thing, and now…well, I don’t want to talk about it.
I suppose we could organize some sort of molded plastic intervention. Get Woody and Buzz, GI Joe, and some of the Peanuts Gang to talk to the young ladies about making smart choices. “You won’t be new plastic forever. One day when you are dried out, faded, and cracking up in the attic, you’ll look back and wish you had done things differently!”
Anyway, I don’t think the sky is going to fall over this. Sure, we can have a talk about our values as a culture, and that is important, but let’s hold it for later. For now, I’ll just say growing up in America today as a young woman is tres tough, and it does not get any easier when major corporations are furiously trying sell the idea that cool people count more than everyone else, just so they can sell more toys to children.
Hope all is well. Ring me up if you have the time.
For more of the Foreman Letters, click here.
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